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The Church as Hermeneutical Community and the Place of Embodied Faith in Joseph Ratzinger and Lewis S. Mudge

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Mary McCaughey

This book adds new impetus to ecumenical theology by focusing on embodied faith or the contextual interpretation of Revelation. It does so through an exploration of the insights of Lewis S. Mudge and Joseph Ratzinger. Mudge advocates catholicity as a hermeneutic which embraces the contextuality of faith in local contexts, including Christian communities and the religious practice of those of other Abrahamic faiths. Through his use of semiotics and social theory, Mudge offers novel ways to interpret faith lived as redemptive existence.
Since for Joseph Ratzinger Revelation can never be fully confined to rational statements, it is nevertheless expressed in living praxis. This relates to his view of wisdom, Tradition, truth and the sensus fidei. Ratzinger focuses on embodied faith in Christian experience, the lives of the saints, New Ecclesial Movements and the plurality of different expressions of faith in synchronic unity.
This study encourages the reader to explore the Church as a sacrament of redemption through contextuality and embodiment. Through the writings of two authors with contrasting and yet complimentary approaches, it highlights the transformative potential of Christianity which can serve as a point of ecumenical learning.
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Part II: Lewis S. Mudge and Joseph Ratzinger on the Church as a Hermeneutical Community and the Place of Embodied Faith

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← 126 | 127 → PART II

Lewis S. Mudge and Joseph Ratzinger on the Church as a Hermeneutical Community and the Place of Embodied Faith ← 127 | 128 →



← 128 | 129 → The second part of the book explores the problem we have posed in Part I, how embodied faith, in human life in a multiplicity of cultural, social and historical circumstances is to be interpreted to contribute to the understanding of Revelation? It does so by outlining the understanding of the Church as hermeneutical community in the work of Lewis S. Mudge and Joseph Ratzinger and the importance of learning from embodied faith.

Mudge’s hermeneutics examines faith in praxis in order to reconstitute a new understanding of the Church as hermeneutical community which combines both “catholicity” and “contextuality.” His engagement with postmodernity inspires him to go beyond rationality in the interpretation of Revelation, to recognise embodiment, contextuality, praxis and the Church as a moral community. His view of practical reasoning or phronesis enables a new view of authority and its role in interpreting revelation. Mudge’s use of social theory, semiotics and phenomenology is a way of making sense of contextual faith in its narrative and symbolic dimensions particularly as expressed in the social relations of community.

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